Friday, April 1, 2011

Astronomy cancelled, try flying instead.

It's now been at least 8 weeks since the skies were clear enough to do any backyard astrophotography.  The only time I've been out there is to occasionally peek into the observatory and make sure my roof leak fix is holding.  I had a leak directly over the telescope, which isn't good.  I've thought about trying to start building a Dobsonian scope around that 10 inch mirror I have, but motivation is very low for anything requiring clear skies.
"Slow Stick" electric plane
So, in my frustration I was looking for other ideas to tinker with and came across a very small video camera that can be attached to a model airplane.  I've had a partially completed "Slow Stick" in the basement, which I decided it was time to finish building and loft this little camera into the sky and see what happens.
Camera installed and ready
I found the camera in China for about $45 and nearly thought it was eaten by customs, but 5 weeks later it finally showed up.   The camera has 2 Gigs of memory, and they claim it can record 1.5 hours of video or a whole pile of still photos.  Basically, a flying webcam.  The camera is about half the size of a standard hotdog, but a lot lighter and won't plump when cooked.  A few rubber bands around it, and I had it strapped to the bottom of the plane.  I was excited to try it out, plane had some control issues with CG location and elevator trim, but I just dealt with it.  Bloody fingers also from trying to adjust the control rod without tools.  (Bloody hand seen in first video).
I took it down the street and tried it at the local park, it was a little windy (not much wind will toss this plane around) so that added to the workload of flying it.

It worked very well! An amazing view also, I'm estimating I got it up about 300 feet or so. I'll need a better battery to get it up higher for a wider view but this is a start.

Probably the highest flight yet, just a few houses down from my house. Notice dark clouds in the distance. Heavy rain just a few minutes later.

I like this video, not as high, but kind of fun seeing how close it got to disaster over that one tree on downwind to landing. I don't think I was in too much danger of snagging a branch, but I'll have to be careful.

This flight was at the school up the hill from the house. Again, just a little windy, but a fun view from above.

So there you have it. You too can easily build your own home-made backyard spy drone aircraft! Now to figure out evil uses for this. Ha!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, I watched all of the videos and will be waiting for that day when you figure out something nefarious to do with this method of flight-video. Hah!